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It’s been part of Greystones for 18 years now, and over that time our Family Resource Centre has helped innumerable people get through difficult times.

Whether it’s a break-up, a breakdown or just a collapse in earnings, whatever the problem, the GFRC gang are there to help.

Tucked away on the last corner of a cul de sac in Burnaby Court, it would be easy to miss this little house of hugs, given that it looks just like any other along the street. It was supposed to be a stop-gap, but that bigger, brighter Greystones HQ has yet to materialise.

It’s nothing short of miraculous the big work that goes on in this little building, especially given that it’s just one full-time staff and two part-timers. We’re talking social welfare rights and entitlements, housing rights and entitlements, accessing education and training (both accredited and non-accredited), elder abuse, bereavement, positive mental health, parenting advice and referrals, substance abuse and addiction, domestic violence and employment support.

The fact that the centre covers not only Greystones but Kilcoole, Delgany, Newtown, Newcastle and all points in between means that coordinator Sarah MacArtain and her crew are currently lobbying to have the average day stretched to 28 hours. If not a little longer.

They could also, of course, do with having their budget stretched a little bigger too, this tiny centre battling to survive pretty much every step of the way. And now, with the lockdown looking set to derail the economy, the need for the centre’s services and supports will increase just as their budget looks like decreasing.

Even before Covid-19, the Family Resource Centre National Forum had launched a nationwide campaign in February, #SupportingRFCs, and now their latest survey, released on June 11th, points out the increasing difficulties facing these centres over the coming months. Across all 121 FRCs in Ireland, there has been a sharp rise in demand for mental health services, food and essential home supplies, activity packs for families, and check-in calls for vulnerable and isolated members of local communities.

Just where this leaves their Greystones centre we decided to find out when we swung down to talk with Sarah this afternoon. With a tap-dancing, tail-wagging Max by our side, and a landscaper revving the feck out of an industrial strimmer outside…

You can find out more about the Greystones Family Resource Centre here, or get in touch directly here or on 012557528.